A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor

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Musical Guests

BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet
Also with David Doucet, Billy Ware, Tommy Alesi, Al Tharp, Jimmy Breaux
They have recorded over 20 albums in the 25 years since Michael Doucet changed his mind about graduate school and English Romantic poetry and went into Cajun music instead. In 1997 he was invited to represent Louisiana in France, to play Cajun French music there, and he was surprised to see how the French looked upon Cajun music: It was the newest form of creative French song. "This turned my head around," Doucet says, "and when I next was invited to France in 1976, it was then that our first LP, BeauSoleil La Nuit was recorded in Paris." The 1977 release, The Spirit of Cajun Music was BeauSoleil's first stateside-released LP, and in 1998 they won a Grammy for L'Amour ou Folie. Their newest album is on the Vanguard label, titled Gitane Cajun.

Gordon Bok
Gordon Bok grew up around the boatyards of Camden, Maine, and sailed on the lovely old schooners that hail from that port. As he sailed, he sang: songs and ballads of the sea and the schooners and the fishes and fishermen. Later he sang of mythical sea folk, seals and selkies who came to him in dreams and legends. At a time when folk music was experiencing a great revival, he was a leader in preserving, collecting, creating and sharing a wide variety of rich and intensely beautiful songs of both land and sea. His mastery of 6- and 12-string guitars and his well-known trademark, the 'cellamba, added to his already well-developed vocal expression to create an unmistakable style that has carried him through decades of being one of our most cherished folk artists. He has made more than a score of albums, and many other musicians, including Archie Fisher, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem, have recorded his songs. In addition, his music has been used in films and published in folk music anthologies, including Rise Up Singing and his own collections, Time and The Flying Snow and One to Sing One to Haul.

Prudence Johnson
Her 25-year career in music has taken her from nightclubs and honky-tonks to Carnegie Hall, from the theater stage to the Silver Screen (Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It), from the Midwest to the Middle East. She is a regularly featured guest on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, heard across the country on public radio stations. Her ten album releases include Little Dreamer, a collection of international lullabies, Moon Country, which features the music of Hoagy Carmichael, and S'Gershwin, a collaboration with pianist Dan Chouinard. She recently collaborated with four Minnesota composers to create A Girl Named Vincent, a presentation of the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay set to music, to be released on CD this year. She is a 2001 recipient of the McKnight Artists Fellowship for Performing Musicians and enjoys a steady schedule of concert appearances across the country.

Gary Rue
Primarily a composer, Gary has over 1,000 songs in his personal catalogue. Recording credits include "Lost In the Shuffle," recorded by Helen Reddy on the European release of her greatest hits compilation, and "Everyone," recorded by Nick Lowe on the Rose of England Columbia Records release (the song found its way to Nick via pop idol Elvis Costello, a fan of Rue's band, Rue Nouveau, a critic's choice combo of the 1980's). He also has 56 theater musicals to his credit, most notably Painting It Red by Steven Dietz, which enjoyed wide exposure nationally, including six sold out weeks at Berkeley Repertory Theater, Second Stage, in Berkeley, California.

Robin and Linda Williams
Robin and Linda first appeared on our show in 1975, the year they recorded their first album for Flashlight Records, a Minneapolis label. Now, following a 15-year association with Sugar Hill Records, they have come full circle and are on the roster of Red House records, another Twin Cities Label. Their latest CD, titled Deeper Waters, has received enthusiastic reviews, like their albums do. Linda is from Anniston, Alabama and Robin was born in Charlotte, North Carolina; they've made their home in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia for many years—in a fine elderly farmhouse with a driveway that can hold a semi. But they spend so much time on the road every year that we see them about as often as we would if they lived in South St. Paul. Which we think is a very good thing.

Dan Chouinard
Dan performs and records with a number of A Prairie Home Companion favorites, including Prudence Johnson, Maria Jette and Peter Ostroushko. For six years he conducted a talking musical radio show called The Singer's Voice, on Jazz 88, KBEM-FM; between musical selections he would interview singers from the keyboard of a piano. He hosted over 200 guests on that show. He is a former teacher of French and Italian and has traveled to those countries extensively by bicycle, carrying a tent and an accordion. "A wonderful way to travel," he says, "especially if you keep the accordion to a manageable size." He was back again this summer, and in May he did a musical travel story show at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, called Café Europa. He is also the co-musical director at the Church of Saint Joan of Arc in Minneapolis.

Butch Thompson
He first became interested in jazz during his childhood in Marine-on-St. Croix, Minnesota, where he discovered the piano at age three. In high school he collected jazz LP records and in 1956 went with his father to see Louis Armstrong at Northrop; he stood in a long line to meet him afterwards and got his autograph. He led his first band, Shirt Thompson and his Sleeves, and played his first professional engagements as a teenager. In 1962 he joined the Hall Brothers New Orleans Jazz Band on clarinet and began a series of pilgrimages to New Orleans. He studied with clarinetist George Lewis and became one of the few non-Orleanians to guest at Preservation Hall. He writes articles and reviews on jazz and produces his own weekly show, Jazz Originals, on KBEM radio in Minneapolis. His writing has appeared in Down Beat, The Mississippi Rag, Keyboard Classics and New Orleans Music.

John Niemann
He got started in music at the right time and place, and for the right reasons; he was in high school and there were girls there. He began with Leo Fender's gift to the world, the electric bass, and started a rock and roll band. In college he discovered acoustic music on the West Bank in Minneapolis and learned the guitar, fiddle and mandolin, eventually finding himself playing a 1920s Gibson mandocello in Peter Ostroushko's band, the Mando Boys. He played kick-butt fiddle for seven years in the Stoney Lonesome bluegrass band, did a number of guitar gigs with various honkytonk bands around the Cities, and for three years was in "the house band at a place called Billy Bob's, or something," at Riverplace. After years spent as a road musician and working in construction, he has settled into the relatively quiet St. Paul life of a finish carpenter. He keeps his music honed with jam sessions in the basement.

Andy Stein
Violinist and saxophonist Andy Stein was a member of The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band on A Prairie Home Companion from 1989 to 2001. Stein collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson. He has appeared on Saturday Night Live and Late Night with David Letterman, and has performed with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, and many others.

"Spider" John Koerner
He was born in 1938 in Rochester, New York, and at the age of 15 was one of the youngest licensed student glider pilots in the nation. He became an engineering student at the University of Minnesota and built his own place in folk music, giving it more body and energy than was generally used at the time. He developed his own style early and he's held to the same approach throughout his distinguished career. We used to see him at the Triangle Bar on Riverside Avenue in Minneapolis (now gone), where he not only sang but told jokes and showed his own home movies. He has done 16 albums with Koerner, Ray and Glover and has been part of 22 others.

David Baumgarten
During the past 35 years, folksinger David Baumgarten has performed—singing sea shanties and telling stories—for over a million people. He sings aboard the square riggers and tall ships, and for 15 years was the official shantyman aboard the Californian, his state's official Tall Ship. He loves the novelist John Steinbeck and the biologist Ed Ricketts, and tries to include their concerns in his own body of work. He lives with his wife in San Luis Obispo County.

Other Talented Guests

Natalie Springuel and Rich MacDonald, naturalists
Natalie combines her passions for the marine environment and coastal heritage with a love of teaching and adventure to help people discover the northwest Atlantic. She works for the Maine Sea Grant College Program, where she creates and delivers programs on the ecology and culture of the Gulf of Maine, sustainable nature-based tourism, and working waterfront issues. Natalie is a Master Maine Guide for Sea Kayaking and Recreation, and has led thousands of visitors on adventures from Cape Cod to Cape Breton and every place in between. She is an avid expedition sea kayaker, having paddled 850 miles around Nova Scotia in 1996, and 1500 miles around the Gulf of Maine with fellow naturalist and husband Rich MacDonald in 2002. The Gulf of Maine Expedition, Natalie's brainchild, was an educational journey that sparked the imagination of hundreds of adults and children through natural history programs, impromptu coastal observations, slideshows, web logs and writing. A long-time resident of Bar Harbor, Maine, Natalie holds a MS in environmental communications and a BA in human ecology.

Rich shares a passion for adventure, natural sciences, and outdoor education with his wife Natalie. Whether exploring the rocky coasts of the northwest Atlantic by sea kayak or telemark skiing the mountains of the Northeastern U.S., Rich spends as much time in the great outdoors as possible. And wherever he is, you can be sure he can list a dozen species of birds he has heard in the previous 15 minutes. Discovering birds at age of 10, his ornithological pursuits have taken him from New York's Adirondack Mountains to the Dominican Republic. During the summer of 2002, along with Natalie, he spent five months kayaking the shores of the Gulf of Maine, where he paddled 1,500 miles and tallied 199 species of birds along the way (Natalie claims he did not talk the last week as he vainly looked for number 200). Rich has also studied the effects of acid rain on high elevation forests and has worked on the science staff of The Nature Conservancy. Since 1989, he has been an outdoor educator, serving as a sea kayak and canoe instructor and leading natural history field trips, with an emphasis on birds, of course. He is currently pursuing a Master's in Philosophy at College of the Atlantic.

John Arrison, maritime historian
A fourth-generation Maine tourist, John's lifelong interest in sailing led him to pursue naval architecture and maritime history. He has been sailing the coasts of Maine and Nova Scotia for thirty-five years, sometimes racing, sometimes teaching college and Elderhostel courses at sea, and sometimes just cruising. He has worked at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine, where he now runs the museum's library collections and education programs, for 11 years.

Ingvar and Sally Sodal, folk dance instructors
Ingvar was raised in a rural farming area in the Trøndelag region of Norway near Trondheim, 350 miles north of Oslo. He started dancing in his teens and in his early 20s became a Certified Folk Dance Teacher in Norway and a member of the National Board of Folk Dancing. When he moved to Boulder, Colorado, to study electrical engineering at the University of Colorado, he soon became an active instructor in Scandinavian folk dancing, teaching at dance camps and workshops throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has been a leading force behind the introduction of Scandinavian folk dancing in the United States. The planned return to Norway after completing his studies has now been postponed for decades, and he and Sally have made Boulder, Colorado, their home.

Even before Ingvar introduced Sally to Scandinavian dancing 25 years ago, she thrived on dancing. She and Ingvar met at Ohio State University, and she has been his teaching partner since their marriage in 1983.

Jonathan Harmon, astronomer
Jonathan Harmon has been the Director of the Arlington Schools Planetarium in Arlington, Virginia for the past six years. He served as a teacher/naturalist with the Arlington school system at their Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Education Laboratory for five years prior. In his previous life, he served thirteen years as Operations Supervisor at National Public Radio and numerous other years at various technical positions with NBC radio, WTOP radio, and janitor/mail clerk at WETA-FM, all in metropolitan Washington. He holds a MA in Education from Marymount University in Arlington and a BS from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is a licensed teacher in the state of Virginia. He and his wife Marian have raised three kids in the Arlington house where he grew up—he can remember seeing the Milky Way from the backyard almost fifty years ago. He is a lifelong student of the earth and sky.

Sharon Doucet, author who will run writing workshops and readings
Novelist and children's author Sharon Arms Doucet uses her adopted Cajun homeland as the subject for most of her writing. Her books include the novel Back before Dark, the picturebooks Alligator Sue, Lapin Plays Possum, and Why Lapin's Ears Are Long, as well as the middle grade novel Fiddle Fever. Raised in Wyoming, she moved to Lafayette, Louisiana, as a teenager, where she discovered a love of the French language, which she studied and taught for many years. She lives in Lafayette with her husband Michael, fiddler for the Cajun band BeauSoleil, and her teenage sun Ezra. She is currently at work on two novels.

Mike Trask, Tai Chi instructor
Michael Trask has "played" Tai Chi for 10 years now. He has been well received as Tai Chi Chuan instructor in the Creative Activities Program at The Ohio State University, McConnell Heart Health Center, and participated in the teaching of Tai Chi Principles to "elder citizens" and Parkinson's Disease sufferer's. In 1998 he was honored with First Place Trophies in Push Hand Championships in Indianapolis and Cleveland.

The basis of Michael's study is intensive course work with Sifu Nathan Menaged at his Chinese Martial Arts Institute located in Columbus Ohio in the style of William C. C. Chen's "60 Movements." Many hours of study were taken with Sifu Nathan's teachers, Grandmaster Tao Ping-Siang of Wu Liu Shan Yin, Chi Yang, China and with Grandmaster William C.C. Chen of Chekiang, China. All of this work is in the tradition of Great-Grandmaster Cheng Man-Ching. Workshops with Professor Cheng's daughters and with Grandmaster Ben Lo, another Professor Cheng student kept spare weekends full. Michael also holds BS in English Education from The Ohio State University.

A Prairie Home Companion Cruise is produced by Prairie Home Productions, presented by American Public Media Group

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